Three pillars of the digital ecosystem

pillars of the digital ecosystem

No consumer tech products are scaled in the market without these three pillars. The content, CX and the platform.

Peter Weil and Stephanie Woerner are the two research scientists who researched how companies manage the organizational change caused because of the digitization of the economy. Weill is a Senior Research Scientist of the CISR (Center for Information Systems Research) at the MIT Sloan School of Management. Stephanie Woerner is a Scientist at MIT’s CISR. One of the most informative and best-selling books written by them is “What’s Your Digital Business Model- Six Questions to Help You Build the Next-Generation Enterprise.”

In this book, they are explaining the digital threats and opportunities, Digital business model, Competitive advantages, scale via mobile and internet of things, reinventing the enterprises, leadership to make the transformation happen, three pillars of the digital ecosystem known as content, CX (Customer Experience) and the technology platform. Let’s look in detail at the three pillars.

Three pillars of the digital ecosystem.

As per Weil and Woerner the competitive advantage comes from one or more of these three pillars

  1. Content

It is the product or information associated with a business. It can be price details, Product information, reviews, use details etc..the examples of content users usually consumes are movie, software and e-books. Maintaining a practice of refreshing/ adding new and enriching content drives new sources of revenue. Its just what is consumed.

  1. CX (Customer experience) 

Its the quality of interaction between customers and the content. How the content is presented to the users, ease of use, progressive disclosure, minimalism all are critical. Creating a superior CX helps drive cross-selling and increased revenue per customer. This will also include the community and the customer inputs, expires for informed decision making, recommendations, purchase/tool history, mobile interface, web interface etc..

  1. Platform

The way content is delivered to our customers through a series of internal digitalized processes, data, infrastructure, flows etc… By developing digitized platforms and using them (sharing across the enterprise rather than reinventing), an enterprise achieves economies of scale with better margins. A platform is just how it is delivered.

We can classify platforms to internal and external. Business process, customer data, technology are the internal platform components and proprietary hardware, public networks, partners are the external platform components.

Three pillars of the digital ecosystem.

Eg 1: Amazon 

As an example, how Amazon makes the most of all three sources of competitive advantage. Amazon’s content that is consumed includes digital products like movies and software, and information about the physical and digital products it sells or brokers. The customer experience (CX) embodies what it’s like to be a digital customer of your enterprise. Amazon’s customer experience (CX) includes the site, app and digitized business processes touching the customer, Examples are the payment options and shopping cart, as well as messaging, such as delivery alerts and email acknowledgements, notifications.

The experience also includes Amazon’s advanced customer-created content, customer’s product ratings, customer reviews and advanced tools like a detailed history of purchases, Amazon Pantry service, search, recent searches, and tailored recommendations.

Amazon’s platform a set of digitized business processes, data, and infrastructures, delivers the content to the customer and has internal and external components. The internal platforms include customer data and all the non-customer- touching business processes, such as customer analytics, HR, finance, and merchandising. External platforms include the phones, tablets, or computers that customers use to research and purchase products, along with telecommunications networks.


Eg 2: Netflix

Netflix is a streaming service based out of silicon valley. It has 150 million subscripts all over the world. The incredible growth that happened to this business is major because of its content strategy. It provides a seamless experience to it’s users. Netflix continues to use it’s global content delivery network, open connect, storing the video streaming directly to the user’s devices. Another content strategy is to create its own original content. In 2017, the brand invested 6M us dollars to build it’s own content personalized for countries, cultures and users. Netflix’s strategy to invest on the original content helped them to win new customers year on year. One of the experiments Netflix conducted was releasing a movie on theatre and in Netflix simultaneously. The movie name is ‘Beasts of the no nation.’ It only managed to collect 100000 dollars from the theatre, and the same movie had a visitor base of 3 million from the platform within 15 days of release.

Netflix focuses on personalizing the customer experience to keep its customers engaged. By effectively tracking their viewing history and collecting data across all touchpoints and the devices. Netflix also uses an algorithm to recommend its customer’s shows/movies as per their past viewing habits and browsing history. They have packages designed for family, viewing the shows together and chatting on the go. All users love the device compatibility and the offline features. Providing 24*7 customer support, doing AB testing, asking for feedback etc are examples of the best CX practices Netflix follows.

As a platform, Netflix evolved fastly and used all the possible technology to deliver the content seamlessly. The growth reminds us the development of the cloud ecosystem. The UI/UX they build on the TV and the other devices are the best in the industry. They internally used data to upsell and cross-sell the content. The underlying tech platform constantly evolved and grew to serve the bigger scale. This all will help Netflix to bring more joy among the users.


Eg 3:

Utest has built the largest community of testers in the world. It is a platform between the testers (QA) and the companies who make the software and the products. Testers used to make money testing different software and products across the world.

In the context of the software, the content Utest generated are the bugs and the test case execution reports. The developers consume the content produced by testers in different organizations. The testers also have a scorecard where they can measure their performance and compare it with the pears. Every tester will be having the rating and a ranking associated with it. Their point value are directly coupled with this ranks. More rank, more money. This will help the platform to get quality bugs every time. There is also a knock out a mechanism to eliminate the bad testers from quality projects.

The customer experience builds by the platform are excellent. The onboarding to any company is within five clicks. They have created a freemium model to onboard more customers and activate them easily. They could get quality testers for all the premium customers. Since they have a presence all over the world, they could get the software tested throughout the clock. This will help the software developers to get the bugs listed while they sleep. So they could make po=roduct development faster and bug-free. Since the testers have multiple devices and ideas, the variety of bugs they could provide are better.

Utest have to build a platform to deliver a seamless experience to both the developers and the testers. The cloud-related technologies and the AI-based predictions helped the testers identify the bugs quickly and report them seamlessly.


Eg 4: Shopify

Shopify is an e-commerce tool, helps anybody to start an e-commerce website. They give all tools to build, start and grow an e-commerce website service. This has become the easiest way for small, medium business owners to bring their business online. They give all the means to customize the website and launch it in hours.

At a glance, Shopify is not Amazon’s direct competitor. There is nothing to buy directly from Shopify. But 218 million customers are buying from Shopify even without knowing the company exists. Instead of onboarding the customers directly, Shopify has 10Lakh 3rd party SMBs who onboard the end customers.

With Shopify’s content strategy, they could provide the right content to the right audience at the right time with the right goals. The right plans will help to bolster our overall business mission. Content is the core of Shopify’s business. They could deliver personalized content based on their user persona and their needs.


Abhilash P Kalarikkal

Chief Product Officer